Arthurian Poetry

On Saturday, I discussed some of the history and prose that helped to give rise to the King Arthur legend we know today. As it turns out, Arthur has a long poetic history as well.

It appears that one of the earliest, Welsh literary references to Arthur is in the poem “Y Gododdin,” attributed to the poet Aneirin. It’s unclear when exactly when this was written, though I’ve seen it suggested it dates back to the seventh century. The manuscript we have is from the thirteenth century. In the poem, Aneirin praises the warrior Gwawrddur of the Gododdin tribe, but appears to hold Arthur in even high esteem.

Another early poem is “Brut” by Layamon written circa the year 1200. It appears to be a poetic adaptation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain. Another poetic adaptation of Geoffrey’s Arthur story is the poem “Morte Arthure” written circa 1265 by an unknown poet.

The poet Chrétien de Troyes wrote several poems about Arthur’s knights in the twelfth century including “Yvain, the Knight of the Lion”, “Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart”, and “Perceval, the Story of the Grail.” The poetry of de Troyes and the poem “Morte Arthure” likely had a strong influence on Sir Thomas Mallory when he penned “Le Morte d’Arthur” in the fifteenth century.

As with two of the early poets I’ve mentioned, I’ve been strongly inspired by Geoffrey of Monmouth. As it turns out, Geoffrey wrote two books related to Arthur and Merlin. The first and most famous is History of the Kings of Britain. His other work is called The Life of Merlin. In History, Geoffrey associates Merlin with Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon. However, in The Life of Merlin, Geoffrey associates Merlin with the Welsh king Gwenddoleu and the poet Taliesin who likely would have lived over a century after Uther Pendragon. Geoffrey himself hand-waves this by suggesting Merlin has lived a long time and I wonder if this is the origin of the idea of Merlin living backward in time.

Two of my poems inspired by Geoffrey’s works appear in the current issue of the webzine Eye to the Telescope published by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. As it turns out, Geoffrey’s History is not just the story of King Arthur—though Arthur’s story takes up the lion’s share of the book. It’s also the story of Arthur’s ancestors. One of those is about a fellow named King Coel. I’ve seen some suggestions that Geoffrey’s King Coel is the inspiration for the King Cole of the nursery rhyme. “Old King Cole was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he.” I admit many dispute this, but it still inspired me to play with Geoffrey’s telling of the King Coel story in the form of nursery rhyme.

My other poem in the collection is a revised version of a poem I wrote several years ago. It’s called “The Passage of Merlin” and combines stories found in “The Life of Merlin” with stories from “History of the Kings of Britain to create a picture of a more dynamic Merlin than the trope of an old man in wizard’s robes that we’ve grown accustomed to.

You can read my poems plus other great Arthurian poems by such folks as Mary Soon Lee, Marge Simon, F.J. Bergmann, and Vince Gotera at:

Dwarf Stars Award and Deal of the Week

Some days, I wake up to an inbox full of junk, sometimes it brings a lot of work. Today, it brought some exciting news, too good to wait for my regular Saturday post. Tales-9-3-cover-big First of all, I’m proud to announce that Greg Schwartz has won the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s 2015 Dwarf Stars Award for best Short Form poem for his poem “abandoned nursing home” which appeared in Tales of the Talisman volume 9, issue 3. The runners up were Jane Yolen for the poem “Princess: A Life” published in the 2014 edition of Mythic Delirium and Robert Borski for the poem “The Square Root of Doppelgängers” which appeared in Star*Line 37.2. Congratulations Greg and the runners up! You can pick up your own copy of the issue with the award-winning poem at or at In addition to Greg’s poem you’ll find great stories and poems by Megan Arkenberg, Edward J. McFadden III, F.J. Bergmann, and Lee Clark Zumpe.

Another piece of great news is that my novel Heirs of the New Earth is on sale this week for only 99 cents. Heirs of the New Earth If you’ve started the Old Star/New Earth trilogy, but have been waiting to complete your collection, this is a great opportunity to get the final book in the series. The Earth has gone silent as the novel begins. John Mark Ellis and the crew of the mapping vessel Nicholas Sanson are sent to investigate. When they arrive, they find vast alien machines known as Clusters in orbit. Fearing the worst, they land and discover that the once overcrowded, polluted Earth has become a paradise of sorts. The problem is over half the population is dead or missing and the planet’s leaders don’t seem to care. As Ellis works to unravel the mystery, sudden gravitational shifts from the galaxy’s center indicate something even worse is in the offing. Can Ellis save the galaxy from the heirs of the new Earth? For those who are fans of my Captain Firebrandt short stories, this novel has some great moments for the old pirate captain. The ebook is on sale directly from my publisher at:

Finally, I’d like to turn your attention to my Scarlet Order Vampire Journal. I recently had a wonderful book signing at Boutique du Vampyre in New Orleans. Not only did I recap the events of the signing, but I shared how you can obtain special signed copies of Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order and Vampires of the Scarlet Order. If you haven’t already, be sure to drop by the post at to get the full scoop!

Resources for Activist Poets

A week ago at WorldCon, I moderated a panel entitled “The Poet as Activist: On Seeing and Saving the Natural World.” This proved to be an interesting topic and we discussed many of the ways a poet or a writer can work in hospitals, schools, or with nature centers to help as educators or to bring awareness of issues to the public. My fellow panelist, Rie Sheridan Rose, assembled an excellent list of resources for people interested in this topic and I wanted to share them here.

The first items on the list are markets that show a particular interest in nature poetry:

The following is more of a market for activist poetry:

Here are some market lists where you can find more poetry markets. Even if a market isn’t searching specifically for “activist” poetry, they may still be interested in the topic of your poem:

Finally, Rie provided a list of discussion guides:

Hope you find this guide useful. If there was something we mentioned on the panel and I neglected to mention it here, feel free to bring it to my attention in comments and I’ll try to add it to the list above. As always, I’m happy to answer questions about the topic.

WorldCon in San Antonio

lonestarcon3 Next week, I’ll be attending LoneStarCon 3, the World Science Fiction Convention, in San Antonio, Texas. I’m excited partly because it’s WorldCon and many of my favorite writers will be there, but I’ve also wanted to visit San Antonio for a while. A few years ago, I discovered that I’m a distant nephew of Davy Crockett, so I’ll definitely pay a visit to the Alamo while I’m there. The convention is being held from August 29 through September 2 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio. You can get all the details about the convention at

My schedule for WorldCon is as follows:

Thursday, August 29

  • 1pm-2pm – Autographing alongside Madeline Ashby, Derwin Mak, and Byron Reese

Friday, August 30

  • 10am-11am – The Poet as Activist: On Seeing and Saving the Natural World. In the 19th century, inspired by Emerson’s essay, Nature, Henry David Thoreau initiated a tradition of the nature writer as observer-artist. Today, that tradition continues, but amid a natural world that has been nearly devastated by our own species. Explore the evolving role of the nature writer as artist and activist. Are seeing the world and saving the world part of the same work? On the panel with me is Rie Sheridan Rose.
  • 11am-noon – Presentation of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling & Dwarf Stars Awards. Nominees for each year’s Rhysling Awards are selected by the membership of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Each member is allowed to nominate one work in each of two categories: “Best Long Poem” (50+ lines; for prose poems, 500+ words) and “Best Short Poem” (0-49 lines; for prose poems, 0-499 words). All nominated works must have been published during the preceding calendar year of the awards year. The Dwarf Stars Award is for best speculative poem of 1-10 lines published in the previous year.
  • 1pm-2pm – The History of Science and the Experience of Science Fiction. Science fiction, janus-like, gives us a perspective on the future by examining how science and technology have developed. Speculating on the future in our fiction can also give us insight on how science developed or went into blind alleys. How does the history of science inform the way we read and write science fiction? Or is it vice versa? On the panel with me are: Miguel Angel Fernandez, Donald M. Hassler, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Kathleen Goonan.
  • 4pm-5pm – Kaffeeklatsch. Come join me for a cup of coffee and the chance to ask me what you will!

Sunday, September 1

  • 10am-11am. Speculative Poetry Workshop. Come and learn about speculative poetry and create your own poem. I’ll be hosting the workshop along with Alan Stewart and Jaime Lee Moyer.

Monday, September 2

  • 11am-noon – Doctor Who: Celebrating 50 Years. Doctor Who turns 50, and we’ve had a year of not only new episodes but specials, novels about all the Doctors, audio production, comics, and more. What’s ahead for the next 50? On the panel with me are: Lynne M. Thomas, Alastair Reynolds, Shanna Swendson, and Perrianne Lurie

Looking forward to seeing some old friends and making many new friends in San Antonio next week. If you’ll be there, drop me a note or a comment so I can be on the lookout for you.

Barrelling into Summer

Summer is off to a busy start. I spent this past week working on three major projects. My steampunk novel Lightning Wolves is due at the publisher’s by the end of July, so I set myself a pace of writing 2000 words a day when I’m not at my “day” job at Kitt Peak National Observatory. So far, I’ve been able to keep up that pace and I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll be getting the first part off to beta readers in early July while I wrap up the ending.

Rhysling Front Cover

In the meantime, I’ve been working with the Science Fiction Poetry Association to get their annual Rhysling Anthology to press. The Rhysling Award is the award for best speculative poem published in the previous year. There are two categories. One is for poems under 50 lines. The other is for poems 50 lines and over. This year’s Rhysling Chair is John C. Mannone. I designed the cover using a wonderful photo of the Bubble Nebula taken at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Thanks to the National Observatory for letting SFPA use such a cool image. It kind of reminds me of the vortex at the opening of Doctor Who.

As I write this, I’m at the end of a two-year term as SFPA’s vice president. It’s been my honor to serve and I wrestled long and hard with the question of whether I was going to run for re-election, but I decided that I had so many commitments on my plate, it was better to step aside and let someone else help run the organization. Nevertheless, it will be my great honor to announce the Rhysling Awards at WorldCon in San Antonio later this summer.

Talisman 9-1 Cover

Earlier this year, I mentioned that I was canceling Tales of the Talisman’s summer reading to allow us to catch up with the magazine’s production schedule. Sure enough, that’s the third big project I’ve been working on this week. I’ve been editing stories for the summer issue and getting them ready to send them to the art director so she can make illustration assignments. I would have finished editing stories for the issue this week, but it turns out I’ve been called in to work at Kitt Peak a night earlier than I was expecting, so edits will get finished during my next break.

As if that weren’t enough, our water heater decided to die this week. At least it waited until summer!

Finding Markets

Probably the two most frequently asked questions I get are “how do you manage to do everything you do?” and “where do you find markets for your short stories and poems?” The first question deserves its own blog post and I’ll get back to that one of these days.

The last few years I’ve been very lucky and the answer to the second question has largely been I don’t find markets, they find me. Many of the stories I’ve sold during that time have been to editors who have requested material from me. Now, just because an editor requests a story from me doesn’t mean they’ll buy it. I’ve been fortunate that most have, but every now and then, someone requests a story but doesn’t feel like the story I sent them was among the best they had to choose from. When that happens, I don’t really sweat it. That just means I have a story I can send to other markets.

At this point, I have a list of editors whose tastes I’m pretty familiar with, so I don’t end up going to market lists very often. I typically go directly to the market’s website and check to make sure I’ve formatted everything according to the current requirements and send the story along. (Take special note, I ALWAYS check the guidelines even when I know the editor well!)

Despite that, every now and then I either have a story I want to try on a new market or I have a story that doesn’t fit one of the markets I know well. How do I find a market for such a story?

Typically the first place I’ll go is The site is run by speculative fiction writer Ralan Conley and focuses on speculative and humor markets. He does a great job of keeping his market list up to date and the site is completely free.

If I’m looking for a poetry market, a great resource is the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Market List. This site provides a list of links and some basic info about each market. is another great market list. They feature editor interviews, reports of response times, the list is easily searchable and it’s not limited to speculative markets. Duotrope has been a free site, but starting in January, you will have to pay a fee of $5.00 a month or $50.00 per year to access their best features. Note, you will still be able to access their basic list for free.

As an aside, Tales of the Talisman contributor Melinda Moore is running a monthly writing contest and the prizes include subscriptions to You can check out her current contest at:

Of course, the granddaddy of all market lists is Writer’s Market, which used to exist exclusively as a thick book, but now exists on line as well. Like Duotrope, you have to pay to access the online features ($5.99 per month or $39.99 per year). Despite that, they still publish the big, thick book and most libraries still buy copies, so you can go there and browse it for free. (I often do!)

Whatever market list you use, there’s no substitute for actually going and visiting the market’s website and checking their most up-to-date guidelines. It’s the best way to assure that editors will remember you in a good way. Getting editors to remember you in a good way is one of the important steps to getting them to invite you to send them stuff in the future!

Here’s wishing you all the best in your search for good places to sell your stories!

New and Forthcoming Books from Hadrosaur Productions

Hadrosaur Productions is the publishing company I founded with Kumie Wise and William Grother back in 1994. If you’re familiar with my work, you probably know Hadrosaur Productions best as the publishing company behind Tales of the Talisman Magazine. However, that’s not all that Hadrosaur does. Over the years, we have published story collections such as Wayne James’s When Only the Moon Rages and audio books such as Joy Smith’s Sugar Time.

Over the years, Hadrosaur has also worked in cooperation with other organizations and publishers to produce books. For many years, we worked with El Paso Community College to lay out their literary magazine Chrysalis. We also collaborated with LBF Books to publish such works as Shawn Oetzel’s Dying Moon and B.T. Robertson’s Alliances.

In this post, I want to introduce you to three books Hadrosaur has published or will soon be publishing.

The 2012 Rhysling Anthology

This year, we worked with the Science Fiction Poetry Association to bring out the 2012 Rhysling Anthology. Each year, the Science Fiction Poetry Association presents the Rhysling Award for the best speculative poems published in the previous year. Poems are nominated by the organization’s members and collected into the Rhysling Anthology which is sent to members so they may vote. The result is a collection of the year’s best science fiction, fantasy, and horror poems. The 2012 anthology features works by Megan Arkenberg, Albert Goldbarth, Shira Lipkin, Tim Pratt, Ann K. Schwader, Mary Turzillo and many more. The wonderful cover image was taken at the Kitt Peak 4-meter Telescope by Heidi Schweiker and Travis Rector. You can read more about it at the NOAO Image Gallery.

All profits from the sale of the 2012 Rhysling Anthology go to the Science Fiction Poetry Association to aid their mission of spreading the word about speculative poetry. Copies of the anthology may be ordered here:

Revolution of Air and Rust

When I was at Bubonicon in August, Robert E. Vardeman asked me if I’d be interested in writing a novella for a shared world steampunk series called Empires of Steam and Rust. In this world, it’s 1915. Queen Victoria is still on the throne…and getting younger. Teddy Roosevelt is still president of the United States. The Russian Revolution failed. Around the world holes have opened up that look into another world. In some cases, material oozes forth. In other cases, people travel through the portals. What really appealed to me about this series was it’s globe-spanning nature.

I decided I wanted to take a look at the Mexican Revolution of this world and find out what Pancho Villa was up to. The result is my entry in the series, a novella called Revolution of Air and Rust.

Authors of Empires of Steam and Rust Books are responsible for distributing the books themselves. So, mine will be coming out through Hadrosaur Productions. The plan is that Revolution of Air and Rust will be released as an ebook this coming week! I will also be creating a print chapbook that should be available soon afterward. Of course, I’ll let you know when the ebook and print book are available, but you can also check the catalog page for updates at:

A Kepler’s Dozen

Since its launch in March 2009, the Kepler Spacecraft has discovered over 100 confirmed planets around other stars. Hadrosaur Productions will be publishing an anthology of science fiction stories set around planets discovered by the Kepler Spacecraft entitled A Kepler’s Dozen. I have teamed up with Kepler’s Project Scientist, Dr. Steve Howell, to assemble this exciting anthology. We have a team of writers including some well known science fiction authors, Tales of the Talisman veterans, and astronomy professionals working on stories for the book. The first stories have already come in and this is shaping up to be an exciting collection. I’ll be sure to keep you posted as this project nears completion.

In the meantime, please drop in and visit the Hadrosaur Productions website at and see all the fine books we have to offer. If you like science fiction, fantasy or horror, I’ll bet you’ll find your next must-have book.

Some Thoughts About Poetry

This week, I received a copy of Over Misty Plains a poetry collection by Alessio Zanelli. Among the collection’s 88 poems are “Salt Teeth” and “The Hag” that first appeared in Tales of the Talisman. Alessio is a talented Itallian poet who writes in English. The book is available direct from the publisher at: I encourage you to take a look.

Back in January, I received my contributor copies of Dreams and Nightmares issue 91 edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel. The issue is something of a milestone for me because it marks the first publication of one of my collaborative poems, a piece called “Pulsar Prospectors” that I wrote with Kurt MacPhearson. In the poem, we give a science fictional twist to a recent scientific discovery — the fact that planets can reform around dead stars.

You can learn more about Dreams and Nightmares magazine at:

I have to say, poetry is not something that comes naturally to me. Despite that, I find reading and writing poetry a valuable exercise that improves my work as a short story writer and a novelist. Poetry helps me phrase things concisely and clearly. It helps me select the best word for a given circumstance. Reading poetry helps me build vocabulary. Of course, this is just one aspect to the appreciation of poetry, but I think it’s an important one.

The person who first helped me to think seriously about reading and writing poetry was none other than Ray Bradbury. In 1983, I heard him read several of his poems at Pacific High School in San Bernardino, California. It was the first time I had heard science fiction themes explored in poetry before. In the years since then, I have learned there is a vibrant community of speculative poets. Many of them are members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. If you have an interest in learning more about speculative poetry in all its forms, you should check out the organization at:

ConDor, Review, and Interview


In a little over a week, I’ll be heading over to San Diego, California for my first visit to the science fiction convention ConDor. It is being held from Friday, March 2 to Sunday, March 4 at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. You can learn more about the convention at

My schedule at the convention is as follows:

Friday, March 2

  • 2pm, Garden Ballroom I, Panel: “Things that go bump in the Spaceship – Alien Horror.”
  • 9pm, Brittany Room, Panel: “Scared Hot – Sex and Horror.”

Saturday, March 3

  • 2pm, Clarendon Room, Presentation: “Hogwarts Astronomy.”
  • 5pm, Eaton Room, Group Reading with the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

Sunday, March 4

  • 10am, Dealer’s Room, Autographing.
  • 1pm, Garden Ballroom I, Panel: “What makes a story Steampunk?”
  • 3pm, Garden Ballroom I, Panel: “Steampunk after the apocalypse.”


My novel Owl Dance received a nice mention this past Sunday in The Denver Post. Reviewer Fred Cleaver opens the review by saying, “Owl Dance is a fun steampunk Western packed with adventures. It roams over the West of the 1870s from cattle rustlers in New Mexico to pirates in California.” I’m not sure how long the Post keeps it’s content available on the web, but as of this writing, the complete review is available at:


The website Long and Short of It Reviews is probably best known for their romance coverage. However, they have recently started sites specializing in other genres. I’m honored to be interviewed at their new Science Fiction and Fantasy site. You can read the complete review here: